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Motorised steadies for leveling

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    Dan PerkinsParticipant

    I’m getting a little older an I find I longer enjoy cranking the corner steadies up and down the way I used to. And I’m sure  I’m not alone in this.

    Is there anyone that produces motorised steadies or that motorises existing steadies?

    I see there’s a phone app to drive them, and level the caravan at the same time, but nothing (in this country at least) to drive it with.

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    paulgartner
    paulgartner on

    I have 4 ”Purple” brand electric steadies on my Excellence ( Exclusive) and they work fine

    purple.co.za

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    Simon Tasman
    Simon Tasman on

    Do you also use the Kojack wheel lifter?

    I understand the motors by themselves are too weak to raise the caravan significantly.

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    Danie Visagie
    Danie Visagie on

    For interest sake, i think Alko has what you are looking for.

    Btw the purple website address does not work.

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    Dan Perkins
    Dan Perkins on

    Thanks Danie,

    If you read the whole thread you’ll see that quite a few of us have solved this question very adequately, and it doesn’t involve ALKO at all.

    We’ve taken the local route, we’ve sourced the motors locally, we’ve DIYed the motors onto our steadies, and we use the local control system. All of which works smoothly and is perfectly maintainable right here in this very country.

    Not only do we have a totally local solution for motorised leveling (and from sitting inside the caravan), they’ve now added a full security system that sends SMSs to wherever you are, and it also monitors our water tank depletion. All on the same unit.

    I won’t say the motors are particularly cheap, but they are strong as mother russia and the quality is superb. We had a bit of  a learning curve but we helped each other and now we can fix our own stuff and we need nothing from any other country.

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    Simon Tasman
    Simon Tasman on

    Exactly right.

    The local solution discussed extensively in this thread is the only one of any practical value, in my opinion. The motors produce up to 40Nm of torgue, which is way more than any drill will ever give you, and is sufficient for a single motor to lift my caravan’s nose (weight 110kg) clear off the ground.

    The motors together have enough power to level the vehicle under any circumstances without actually lifting it off the ground (something the steadies are manifestly not designed to do, ever). And because the spirit level is built into the phone app, you do this with the phone flat on the table from inside the caravan, which is what we wanted all along.

    I’ve even seen a video of a system where you’re supposed to squat next to the the steady and push the buttons. How useless is that?

    I understand that the ALKO system was bought in by them when they bought a hydraulic system (that’s is hugely expensive) manufacturer, and never really worked. Hence they don’t sell it here or in Europe any more.

     

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    Dan Perkins
    Dan Perkins on

    Because I didn’t have much confidence in my ability I initially bought just one motor, thinking that if I didn’t succeed with this I could always sell it, or maybe use it somewhere else eventually.  I also put my name down with Dactyl for a controller, which sometimes has a bit of a delivery delay. I followed the tutorial on their website and that saved making lots of stupid mistakes and buying lots of tools I didn’t need.

    Then, when the first worked out OK I bought another one motor per month to stagger the cost and also give me lots of time to learn to do the conversions without being pressured. By the time I finished the 4th steady I’d learned a lot about how to do this job, and I went back to No 1 to make it a bit better. You can test the motors with heavy duty switches while you’re waiting for your controller to arrive.

    Now the whole job is done and working for a few months already and without any major financial pain since I staggered it. Of course the accountant in me knows exactly how much money I spent, but when I see that I could have spent even more on some flimsy useless junk from Germany I’m very happy, and quite proud of my workmanship.

     

     

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    Johan Wessels
    Johan Wessels on

    This has always been an issue for many people especially trying to get the caravan level let alone steady. Personally I finally decided to take the easy route and have been using a cordless drill with the right attachment to operate the corner steadies for over 15 years now.

    I have developed my own technique as follows.

    Once the caravan is in the position you want it;-

    1 Get the caravan level – side to side (with the aid of a small spirit level) by using purpose made planks about 3 cm thick and wide enough for a wheel to fit on and about 30cm long. I have four such planks (thus giving me various rights) which are easy to stow away when not in use. I either pull or push the caravan using the vehicle whilst still attached to the caravan or using the caravan mover to drive the van onto as many planks as required to get the van level from side to side.

    2 Once levelled side to side (and vehicle detached from the van ) I lower the front of the van using the jockey wheel so that the van is just off the level front to back but slightly sloping forward.

    3 Lower the two rear corner steadies using the cordless drill (very quick and effortless) till the steadies are firmly on the ground without “jacking ” the van up (again I use purpose made planks for the steadies to rest on giving a better base to support )

    4 I use the jockey wheel to now raise the front till the van is level front to back. Since the position was only slightly sloping forward it does not require a lot of lifting with the jokey wheel. Once levelled, lower the two front steadies with the purpose made planks, till they both are firmly grounded without “jacking up the van” I then release the pressure of the jokey wheel by winding it up slightly.

    When ready to leave the site I do the above in reverse.

    5 By this time my wife has connected the power, the kettle is on and coffee is ready. (ok sometimes a cold beer is waiting for me.)

    I did consider getting the auto levellers but after fitting the caravan movers I decided it was not necessary  The option at the time I was looking at can be found at:-   http://www.purplesa.co.za

    The movers I purchased also came from them and I have had them on for 9 years now and they are still functioning perfectly and to date no problems. Even though I was 63 at the time I was able to fit them myself.

    Hope that was of some help

    Regards

    Johan

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    Johan Wessels
    Johan Wessels on

    I think that should read  purplesa.co.za

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    Josef Konrad
    Josef Konrad on

    I read in a thread on another forum where the caravanner says he can’t open or close the door anymore when he levels his vehicle using the steadies.

    I thought that was what steadies were for – to level the caravan.

    If I fit motors to my steadies and install all the control hardware will it all be money wasted?

    I already have the DT advanced mover electronics driving my ewiks movers, which works outstandingly well – I just want to do the extension as per the drawing on the website.

    Please advise before I lay out some big bucks on those motors. (And PLEASE no more about battery-powered drills!!)

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    Fyko
    Fyko on

    Hi Josef,

    Distorting a caravan’s frame to the point that the doors will no longer open or close indicates a defective technique which should be remedied before serious damage is done to the caravan.

    When standing naturally a caravan rests on 3 points – 2 wheels which together carry about 92 – 95% of the weight, and a jockey wheel which carries the remaining 5 – 8% (the nose weight). As a tripod it can stand on any surface without torsional stress to the chassis.

    When levelled the caravan stands on 4 corners (with variable spring-loaded assistance from the wheels), which has potential for a disproportionate part of the weight being supported on one of the diagonal lines. This can cause the chassis to twist and distort the caravan box, placing intolerable strain on the floor-to-wall and wall-to-roof joints.

    While the weight on each side is shared between the steadies and the wheel in variable proportion, we know that the weight on the 2 steadies on any side will be shared almost equally (each of the front steadies need to carry half the nose weight). If there is any inequality between the weights on the front and back steadies the chassis will be subjected to torsional stress, which will lead to damaging stress on the structure of the entire caravan.

    As long as the front-to-back weight distributions are in harmony (the front heavier than the back by half of the nose weight), any side-to-side differences such as between the two fronts or the two backs become meaningless.

    With our motorised levelling system we advocate ‘minimal lifting’, that is to say we prefer to let the wheels carry the bulk of the weight (for which they were designed), and let the steadies carry only sufficient to level the chassis and eliminate bounce, thereby reducing wear and tear on the mechanisms for maximum longevity.

    The procedure we recommend goes as follows:

    Enable Levelling on the App’s home screen,

     

     

    Calibrate the crosshairs if necessary by double clicking the appname.

    Place the phone face up on a flat surface that parallels the floor,

    In this case the caravan is nose high and, since we don’t want to fight the jockey wheel we lower the nose at the jockey wheel until the caravan has a nose-low attitude.

    Then we extend the steady at the lowest corner of the caravan (in this case most likely the Left Front) until the crosshairs zero. The motors are strong enough to single-handedly lift 120Kg of nose weight into the air. The motor current will be continuously displayed on the mobile phone and you can tell from the sound the motor makes how hard it is working. Remember this is done from inside the caravan so you monitor its levelness second by second.

    Once the crosshairs centre you will extend the Left Back steady until it bears a weight equal to that of the Left Front, minus half the nose weight. After this steady touches the ground the load will increase sharply since you are now not rotating the caravan around the axle but lifting it against the opposite end’s steady.

    If the left hand side needs further lifting, or the right hand side needs lifting to complete the levelling, you’ll follow the same procedure – extent the steady at the lowest corner to achieve a target, and then immediately extend its brother at the front or back to share the load. Remember the front will always be heavier than the back by half the nose weight.

    This procedure takes just enough weight off the wheels to achieve levelness without raising the overall height of the caravan. Every adjustment to a steady is immediately matched by a corresponding correction to its front or back brother and this will avoid the torsional stress conditions that distort the caravan body.

    And without getting your knees dirty.

    You can extend your MotorPac unit with a Levelation extension, but you need to return it to me to wire the umbilical cable. You only need that and 2 power wires into the MotorPac to get going. And of course two 4sq/mm wires to each motor.

     

     

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    Prestige City
    Prestige City on

    thanks for starting this discussion.

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    paulgartner
    paulgartner on

    i have steadies by ‘Purple” that work well. just remember they have a limited ability to level, as if any steady actually lifts the caravan you will bend the chassis.

     

    if the ground is very sloped rayjer use a ramp to get it to within 90% level, then use the steadies

     

     

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    Fyko
    Fyko on

    It is hard to imagine how a chassis that is being held perfectly horizontal (level) by being supported at 4 corners is going to be ‘bent’.

    During extensive field testing we have found that, without exception, all the caravans we tested  could be lifted at opposite corners without any damage to the chassis. In some cases there was temporary distortion of the caravan body that causes misalignment of doors and windows. These distortions were easily avoided by following the correct levelling procedure.

    Most steadies are not intended to support the full weight of the caravan and should only be used to rotate the chassis about the suspension.

    It remains impossible for a chassis held horizontal to be bent by that which supports it. However it is possible, even likely, that those supports will be of differing lengths in order to hold the chassis horizontal.

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    Simon Tasman
    Simon Tasman on

    So what is the correct procedure of levelling without distorting the chassis?

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    Fyko
    Fyko on

    In all cases you start with the caravan standing on 3 points – the main wheels and jockey wheel with the nose below horizontal. If you cannot get the nose below horizontal you are going to fight the jockey wheel and you’re going to have a hard time. You must be able to lower the jockey wheel enough to get the nose low, or choose a different way to park.

    You then extend the front steadies until they both touch the ground – and then continue to extend them evenly until the caravan is level in the front-to-back, or longitudinal, plane. You can use the built-in ammeter on the screen as well as the motor sound to estimate equal loading of the motors. The motor current is electronically limited to 25A so as not to overstress anything.

    With the phone lying on a table and aligned with the length of the caravan you will see the  caravan is level in the longitudinal axis and the longitudinal cross hairs will look like this:

    The longitudinal axis will now be centred and level but the lateral axis will show an error either to the left or the right. In this case the left side is low, since the top of the phone points to the front of the caravan.

    You now extend the rear steadies until they both touch the ground lightly.

    Using the same principles of equalising as above you now extend the 2 steadies on the lower side until the lateral cross hair shows zero error.

    Job done.

    At no stage was any twisting force applied to the chassis, and the wheels still carry as much of the weight as possible. If you are using very low-powered steadies you may find that you have to lift the low-side wheel by some other means, like a jack or some kind of wheel ramp that you see all over the Internet. Our motors can lift about 250Kgs each, which is enough for most applications.

    If you had started with the nose high because the jockey wheel would not go any lower you would have had to lift much of the weight off the wheels by raising the rear with the steadies alone. This is a bad idea – better to start with a parking where the nose is low.

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